The 50 Most Talked About Games of 2011: Part II
4/27 Outland (84)
During the PlayStation Network outage, Housemarque released Outland, a fun platforming game, on Xbox Live. This release stung PS3 owners especially hard because the developer (Housemarque) was a long-time supporter of the PS3, having developed a number of well-received games exclusively for the system. Outland eventually was released on the PSN after the outage, but by then I had picked it up on Xbox. The game is stunning visually, and it’s a pretty clever platformer to boot. You need to use your ability to switch back and forth between light and dark as you hack, slash, and jump your way through levels. The co-op mode was also well received.
5/14 The Witcher 2 (88)
I don’t play PC games anymore. The arms race associated with PC gaming is beyond my budget and, honestly, game development has shifted from the world of PC first to console first, so I don’t even miss PC games much–except when I read about The Witcher 2. Every reviewer called The Witcher 2 one of the best RPGs ever made, and the way your choices influence the game is actually cool (in other words, the exact opposite of everything Peter Molyneux has delivered). The great news is that the game is scheduled to come to consoles in 2012!
5/17 L.A. Noire (89)
One of the year’s more controversial games, L.A. Noire released to generally positive reviews. However, when talking with a number of gamers (especially those who write for Stew Over), I discovered that a lot of people HATE this game. Personally, I thought it was just okay. I enjoy Rockstar’s games more than most, and although the game admittedly had a number of problems, I enjoyed it enough to play all the way through the cases. I tend to agree that the new facial animation system was completely overhyped. The animations looked good (and much better than anything Skyrim has), but with the entire game centered around that one feature, it needs to be better than this game delivers. The entire interrogation process ended up being incredibly frustrating. On the plus side, I thought the use of music and the re-creation of 1940s Los Angeles were amazing.
6/7 inFAMOUS 2 (83)
A sequel to the incredibly well reviewed inFAMOUS, inFAMOUS 2 is a PS3 exclusive game that I didn’t have much interest in playing. I tend not to like third-person action games, so this game seemed not to fit my style. Also, I was warned that I should play the original inFAMOUS if I wanted to get the most out of the sequel, and inFAMOUS is still sitting in my backlog. If you played inFAMOUS 2, let me know your thoughts in the comments.
6/10 Duke Nukem Forever (49)
One of the most famous Vaporware games of all time, Duke Nukem Forever was in development for over 10 years. Gearbox, the makers of the surprise hit Borderlands, eventually took over development and finally got the game to release. Unfortunately, it sucked. Hard. When a game takes this long to make, odds are always good it will suck, and sure enough, it did. Despite the crappy reviews, the game was probably talked about as much as any game (besides L.A. Noire) on today’s list.
6/14 Child of Eden (84)
Billed by many as the first must-own Kinect title, Child of Eden performed extremely poorly at retail. I can account for one copy not (yet) purchased. The reviews all noted the short gameplay of 3-4 hours, which is not enough to justify a full retail price purchase. I’m hoping the price will come down in the future, as I am anxious to try the game, which involves cool visuals combined with music in interesting ways.
6/19 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (94)
The first must-own game for the 3DS, Zelda also underlined one of the system’s major problems. The only highly rated games for the 3DS (outside of Street Fighter IV) have been 64-bit remakes. As cool as it is to see Zelda or Star Fox in remade 3D and upgraded graphics, the system desperately needs new game experiences. A new Mario game did come out in November, but that was eight months after launch. That shouldn’t completely diminish what was accomplished here, however. The game is beautiful, and the 3D does work well. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d anticipated, but that’s a longer story for a different post. The game was extremely well received.
6/22 Trenched (Iron Brigade) (Best Co-op Xbox Live Game) (83)
Double Fine released a number of well-received Xbox Live games recently (Costume Quest, Stacking, and Trenched), of which Trenched was my favorite. In fact, I feel it was the best co-op Xbox Live game of the year. Basically a tower defense game, Trenched allows you and up to three friends to jump into a powerful mech and destroy wave after wave of enemies. A licensing dispute forced Double Fine to change the game’s name to Iron Brigade.
7/13 Ms. ‘Splosion Man (82)
As a sequel to the popular ‘Splosion Man, Ms. ‘Splosion Man once again has players using a simple “press one button” system to solve insanely difficult puzzles. The game is playable with up to four players online and can really test your patience with your friends on particularly difficult puzzles. This one was a little hard for me, but if you’re up for a challenging puzzle game, this is a good option.
7/20 Bastion (Top Game of the Year: Number 5) (Best Xbox Live Game) (86)
The headlining game for Microsoft’s Summer of Arcade does not disappoint. An action adventure game, Bastion will first impress with its incredible visual style. Described elsewhere as “watercolor infused with stained glass,” the colors jump off the screen. As you play, you’ll see Bastion’s other charms, including the narrator who tells the story as you move. This might sound annoying, but it’s incredibly well done, and I didn’t hear the narrator repeat himself once. In addition, the music is so incredible that I went to the game’s website and picked up the soundtrack. The rather simple, Zelda-like combat is probably the game’s weakest point; however, it’s still fun and should not stop you from enjoying this great experience. I played through this one twice and it was one of my five favorite games of 2011.
Check back tomorrow for the next 10!